Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.
I. THE SOURCE OF ITS GROWTH - CHRIST THE HEAD. As the Church is a spiritual body, so the characteristics of the natural body are found in it. It is a body divinely framed as truly as the natural body, and designed to bring greater glory to God than the body which types it. Its Head is the Lord himself. It has its being and form in him, as well as all its nurture, such as its life and light, grace and joy, strength and fruitfulness; it depends upon the Head for subsistence and for safety; it is united to the Head by a bond that is both close and indissoluble.
II. THE AGENT OF ITS GROWTH - THE HOLY SPIRIT. For "by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12). As the one spirit of man wields at will all the functions of the body, and concentrates the various members upon its purposes as they arise, so the Holy Spirit gives each member of the mystic body its peculiar action and power in the divinely appointed diversity which contributes to its eventual unity.
III. THE RELATION OF THE MEMBERS TO EACH OTHER. "The whole body is fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth." Each member is in relation with all other members as well as with the Head. Each is dependent upon the other. No member can dismiss another as useless; none is so great as not to be indebted to the least. "God has tempered the body together." Now, just as the parts of the human frame are necessarily of different functions, and set, some in superior, some in inferior, places, yet all act together in the fullest sympathy; so all the members of Christ's body must keep rank and order, acting within their own sphere with due wisdom, harmony, and love, the eye not doing the work of the hand, nor the hand the work of the foot, but abiding each in his own calling.
IV. THERE IS AN INDIVIDUAL ACTION OF EACH MEMBER, "According to the effectual working in the measure of every part." Each must do its own proper work, according to its position. Just as a man is strong in the faculty which he most exercises, so the member who is strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus becomes individually efficient according to the operation of that grace. One member is thus apt to teach, another to convince, another to counsel, another to stimulate.
V. THE CHANNELS OF SUPPLY - "THE JOINTS AND BANDS" -ARE THE WORD AND ORDINANCES. They convey grace from the Head to the members. The Word of God is the grand means, in connection with baptism and the Lord's Supper. These two ordinances are, indeed, the two appointed symbols of the Church's unity - baptism representing the first action of the Holy Spirit in fitting the members for the body; the Lord's Supper, the drinking into one Spirit, who makes the table a visible center of union to these brought out of the world.
VI. THE ELEMENT OR SPHERE IN WHICH THE GROWTH OF THE BODY IS EFFECTED. "Love." It is not asserted that we are to grow in love, but that in love, as the sphere of growth, we are to grow in all the elements of perfection. That love which follows the things which make for peace and edification, and bears the infirmities of others, has peculiar faculties for edifying the body of Christ.
VII. THE RESULT OF GROWTH. "It maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself." The increase is twofold - in the addition of members to the Church, and in the growth of the members in all the elements of spiritual perfection. - T.C.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.aleetheuein has in usage the special force of "expressing truth," yet here it seems to be the expression by a whole life and conversation, and so to answer to the recent phrase — too recent to find place in a great version; the phrase of "being real." It means the tone of true life answering to true conviction. For the apostle, with a crash of images, bids us not be infantile, and not toss and twist as the waves of opinion surge to the breath of every new system, system ever so fortuitous, ever so scheming, ever so methodically misleading; but counter to all this, bids us form a purpose of steady growth, a growth depending on our own will, a growing into Jesus Christ. Of this mystic attainment, the moral intelligible meaning at this present is: "To be real — in love" — reality in contrast to illusion, love in contrast to self-seeking. Is not this the world's problem of life? The very epigram of ethics — "Lovingly real." It is easy to be straightforwardly real, and show no tenderness for anyone but yourself. It is easy to express devoted interest by voice and look, and to be a dissembler. But to be real oneself and to be in love even with those that are not real and not loving, requires such an ejection of self-pleasing and self-seeking, as must be troublesome to the best, and intolerable to the most. There is an honesty of manner which, as Cicero says, makes "a brow look not so much a brow as a pledge to society, an austerity like that of an archaic bust, a massive simplicity on which an age or a kingdom might lean; yet (says he) such a man may be a deceiver from his boyhood, his spirit shrouded by his looks, and his doings by four wails." Or the selfish may wear no disguise at all. As in a vivid portrait lately exhibited to us — "the motive of his talk was never an appeal for sympathy or compassion, things to which he seemed indifferent, and of which he could make no use. The characteristic point with him was the exclusiveness of his emotions. He never saw himself as part of a whole, only as the clear-cut, sharp-edged, isolated individual...needing in any case absolutely to affirm himself." The feigning of the actor and the indifference of the egotist are equal, though contrasted tributes to the world's high honour of honesty. But in neither of them is there a grain of love. Love has its tributes too. All the forms of society are penetrated and saturated with the expression and exhibition of our interest in each other. And these forms are hollow only if you choose to make them so. Genuine courtesy fills every one of them with meaning.
I. TESTIMONY FOR CHRIST. And here we have a first application of this antithetic unity of reality and love: — Independence with considerateness, dignity with humility, self-respect free from self-consciousness, and kindness without assumption. It is reality which Christ seems to require as a first condition of our remaining within the circle of His own influences present and to come. And how effective it is! Even the rudest personal testimony, the forced-out declaration in clumsiest English of "what He hath done for my soul," seems to clench the holdfast of the speaker, and to pierce like nails into the consciences of hearers.
II. A LOVING WORD OF FAITHFUL WARNING TO RICH MEN.
III. LOVING REALITY IN WORSHIP. If the great antithesis of reality and lovingness is a help in the guidance of our own heart, and has a bearing on the present fast-changing relations between rich and poor, ought it not further to contribute something to our view of the modern agitations of the Church? It cannot be without significance even to an unconcerned looker-on (if the literature of the time can allow us to imagine such a person), that these agitations centre upon worship. But has not reality as much to do with the question as lovingness? For what is worship? Is it not a recognition of the truth of things, how things are in the world? Was it not so framed of old by God, has it not so been felt by man to be the most expressive, the most solemn recognition of realities unseen, of veritable relations filling all the region around man?
II. Thus we are led back to the second great characteristic, which is to be in the Christian's heart, speech, and life. THAT IS LOVE. And if love be the fulfilling of the Law: if faith, hope, and love be the three great Christian graces, but love the chiefest of all; we need not wonder that our truth is to be leavened with love, like everything else we do. Yes, let the two things always go together: Truth and Love. Truth, without love, will fail to do what God meant it for: and love without truth, would flatter the soul into a false peace, from which the waking would be in woe. Truth is the stern hard thing, like the bare branches of winter: Love is the softener and beautifier, like the green foliage on the summer tree. If you show that you love people, you may tell them truths that condemn them, and vet awaken no bitterness: you may show them how wrong they are, and only make them thankful to you for setting them right. Do you ask how we are to reach this love, that ought to leaven all our speaking, thinking, feeling, and being; how we are to cast out the poor enmities, jealousies, irritations, and self-conceits, that often make people speak the truth in anything but love, and hear the truth in anything but a loving spirit? The answer to that question is ready: and one plain inspired declaration is as good as twenty. Listen to St. Paul's words: "The love of God" (and that, you know, brings along with it love to man) "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)
I. A FEW ILLUSTRATIONS OF SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE.
1. If I speak the truth in love, I shall delight in all, who exhibit that truth, even though in many things they differ from me.
2. If I speak the truth in love I shall rejoice in the exhibition of truth, even by those who are personally offensive or injurious to me. This thing Paul did (Philippians 1:15).
3. If I speak the truth in love I shall not seek to magnify myself by the utterance of the truth, at the price of the degradation or disparagement of others.
4. If I speak the truth in love I shall defend it in a loving spirit.
5. If I speak the truth in love, I shall be moved by a loving purpose in the utterance of truth. My spirit will be benevolent and my aim will be within the sphere of love.
II. SOME CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH WE MAYBE MOVED TO ENDEAVOUR WHENEVER WE SPEAK THE TRUTH TO SPEAK IN LOVE.
1. Christian truth is revealed as a means of bringing us men back to love. The apostasy of man is a wandering from love. The moral restoration of man is restoration to perfect love. And Christian truth is revealed as a means of restoring us to love.
2. Christian truth is best illustrated and enforced by the voice, and by the countenance, and by the hands of love.
3. No aim or object, however important, can justify the transgression of the law which demands perfect love. If it be right to be bitter and unloving in speaking the truth, it would be right to steal or to kill for the truth's sake.
4. Except as we speak the truth in love, we cannot expect to spread widely the knowledge of the truth. The man who speaks the truth, but not in love, may succeed in diffusing it; but he who speaks it in love will surely prosper. The one is like a man sowing good seed while a rough wind is blowing, or when surrounded by fowls, which devour it up — the other is like a man sowing when the atmosphere is calm, and no creature is near to prevent the seed falling into the ground.
5. Unless we speak the truth in love we are liable to depart from the truth. Between the state of our affections and our religious beliefs there is a close and abiding connection. Departure from love, if it be more than temporary, will involve some departure from the truth. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.
6. There are temptations incident to speaking the truth, and manifold temptations connected with much speaking, and these are best met and resisted by the power of love. He who speaks the truth is in danger of making his advocacy of the truth a personal matter — a means of exalting himself, and of serving himself, and he is in jeopardy of enlisting for his service pride and vanity; but he who speaks the truth in love, loses himself, and forgets himself, and becomes absorbed in the manifestation of the truth. Thus speaking, the speaker is to the truth, as the easel is to a painting, and as a candlestick is to a light.
7. Schism is promoted if the truth is not spoken in love.
8. We are servants of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in speaking the truth, only so far as we speak in love. Failing here, we are the servants of some sinful lust or passion. We wear the livery of truth as our professed Master, and do the work in that livery of another master, who is opposed to him whom we profess to serve. We admit that it is very difficult in some circumstances to speak in love. The anger which is aroused by contradiction, the fear of being worsted which is called into play by opposition, the desire for a creditable share of personal strength, which is awakened, with its attendant pride and vanity, unite to render it difficult. But a true and loyal Christian is not a man to put aside a duty because it is difficult. It was a difficult matter to him to repent, but he has repented; difficult to believe, but he has believed. He is the child of a Father who only doeth wondrous things. Truth needs not the service of passion, yea nothing so dissevers it as passion when set to serve it. The spirit of truth is withal the spirit of meekness.
(S. Martin, D. D.)
I. LOYALTY TO TRUTH. What a changed world this would be, and what a glorious Church, if there were no treasons, no rebellions, no wrongs against the truth.
1. Truth in the commercial world.
2. Truth in social intercourse.
3. Religious truth.
II. LOVE TO MAN, in conjunction with loyalty to truth.
III. LIKENESS TO CHRIST.
(J. W. Lance.)I. WHAT IS THE DUTY OF THE FAITHFUL PREACHER? The text answers, "to preach the truth in love." What is truth? The first great truth of religion is the knowledge of God.
II. WHAT CONSTITUTES A FAITHFUL PREACHER? Now some would say, preaching the truth does so. Not exactly, my brethren. For it is possible to be convinced of a thing without being very well pleased with it.
1. In the first place, whosoever will "speak the truth in love," before all things it is necessary that he be himself "of the truth." Your lips to be truthful must be the exponents of an indwelling Divine and deep seated love.
2. Furthermore it is necessary to truthfulness of speech, or faithful preaching, that we preach the truth in love to men's souls.
3. But with all his faithfulness the faithful preacher must take care "what manner of spirit he is of." True, he must "not shun to declare all the counsel of God" — true, he must "nothing extenuate" nor allow the wicked to remain in their sins, and vainly content themselves with a peace which does not belong to them. Still, on the other hand, he "must not set down aught in malice," or preach the truth, however faithfully, with the spirit of bitterness, or sarcasm, or spiritual pride. Especially is it laid upon us, reverend brethren, to "speak the truth in love" to those who dissent from the character or convictions of our church. If we are lovers of the truth, the truth will be spoken by us elsewhere than in the pulpit: the pulpit doubtless offers a prominent opportunity of speaking the truth and enforcing its obligations with all that fervour and faith which belong to a heart that is itself in the fear of God: but true preachers of God will not rest here.
III. WHY PREACHERS SHOULD BE FAITHFUL IN THE WAY I HAVE POINTED OUT.
(W. Fisher, M. A.)1. The text assumes that if we are Christians our daily conversation will be mainly with our fellow Christians. If our relations with our fellow Christians were only occasional, it would be vain to think that our truthful discharge of those relations could ensure growth in the whole spiritual life; but the true Christian cannot be merely in occasional and accidental contact with those who are radically united with him in Christ.
2. The blessed fruits of the fellowship into which we enter inwardly and spiritually in our union with Christ, and visibly and outwardly in our public profession of faith as members of the Christian Church, can only be manifested by truthfulness and loyalty. We are to be truthful to our profession. A profession of obedience to Christ is a profession of willingness to sacrifice ourselves for them that are His.
3. Where there is this honesty of purpose towards the brethren, we shall be sure to find candour, simplicity, and plain truthfulness in every act of life. The man who is seeking his own things, who associates with his neighbours only to make a profit of them, requires to hide his purpose by untruthfulness; but the man who knows that no Christian can venture to have an interest of his own apart from the interest of the whole Church needs no concealment. Surely, when professing Christians deal with one another in secresy and guile, they are either confessing that they have not felt the power of grace in their own souls, or they have basely doubted the power of grace in their neighbour.
4. If our actions were always pure in the sight of God and man, if our Christian life were perfect, if we were not still under the power of sin, so often intent on selfish ends, it would be easy for us to be candid and sincere to one another. The test of Christian truthfulness is to be found in its power to assert itself as the rule of our life in spite of the sins that disturb even Christian fellowship.
5. It is plain that truthful dealing in these and many other ways, is possible only if, as the apostle says, it is truth speaking "in love," not merely that we are to speak the truth lovingly, not harshly. To live a life of open-hearted candour towards our brethren, if we have no love to Christ in our hearts, is the greatest of all hypocrisies.
(W. R. Smith, M. A.)
Christian Age.The manner of saying a thing is of as much importance as the thing said. Apples of gold, when taken out of their pictures of silver, and hurled at your head, may become the instruments of great pain, much harm, and even murder. So words that are not fitly spoken. They may in themselves be good and true enough, but if uttered in a rude, insolent, arrogant, and offensive manner, they will probably result in evil rather than good. The question of manner is, therefore, something worth taking into consideration, equally by him whose office it is to instruct, advise, rebuke, and exhort his fellow men. For while not everyone can be like the shepherd of King Admetus, whose —
"Words were simple words enough,
And yet he used them so,
That what in other mouths was rough,
In his seemed musical and low,"there are yet very few who, by taking heed thereto, may not cultivate an agreeable, gentle, winning manner, even though by nature they be rough and harsh. The heart is the source of the manner of speech as much as of the words. Temper and soften that; fill it with Christ's charity. Let your words be winged by love, and their own sweetness will heal the wound they strike.
(Spencer Pearsall.)I. THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AS A BODY. No one would ever draw from the inspired pages the modern notion of the Church as composed of various self-originated societies, with conflicting creeds, diverse government and discipline, with changeful worship and ordinances, adapted to the taste or humour of their capricious founders. No. The Church presented in the Bible is like Jerusalem, "a city which is at unity in itself." The Church is not only a society having common interests, a city with a general charter, a kingdom having one Sovereign. These comparisons do not sufficiently illustrate its unity; but it is one Body, under the direction of one Head, animated by one vital Spirit.
II. THE UNION AND COMMUNION BETWEEN THE MINISTERS AND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH AND ITS DIVINE HEAD.
III. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE GROWTH AND EXTENSION OF THE CHURCH ARE PROMOTED. Like the human body, to which it is compared, the Church of Christ does not attain its growth at once, but passes through infancy and childhood to the full vigour and maturity of manhood. The growth of the Church consists not only in the advancement of its own members in faith, holiness, and love, but also in its aggressive movements upon the world, the conversion of sinners through its instrumentality, and the adding unto it of such as shall be saved. How then are we, my brethren in the ministry, to effect our part in the edification of the Church and the conversion of the world? All the duties of our high function have a tendency to these glorious ends; but preeminent among them, as if including all others, and giving to them all their efficacy, is that specially noticed in the text — "speaking the truth in love." The truth of God must ever be held in connection with the Church of God. It is at once her support and her adornment. She is the tree of life, which bears those leaves of truth that are for the healing of the nations. But truth in all its beauty, integrity, and fair proportions, is found only in union with the Church. But what is to be the spirit of our teaching? We must not only inculcate the truth as it is in Jesus, but do it in the spirit of Jesus, which was the spirit of love. "Teaching the truth in love."
(Bishop Henshaw.)I. OUR UNION TO CHRIST — "The Head, even Christ."
1. Essential to life.
2. Essential to growth.
3. Essential to perfection.
4. Essential to every member.
II. OUR INDIVIDUALITY — "Every joint; every part." Each one must mind his own office.
1. We must each one personally see to his own vital union with the Body, and chiefly with the Head.
2. We must be careful to find and keep our fit position in the Body.
3. We must be careful of our personal health, for the sake of the whole Body; for one ailing member injures the whole.
4. We must be careful of our growth, for the sake of the whole Body. The most careful self-watch will not be a selfish measure, but a sanitary duty involved by our relationship to the rest.
III. OUR RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER — "Joined together"; "that which every joint supplieth."
1. We should in desire and spirit be fitted to work with others. We are to have joints. How could there be a Body without them?
2. We should supply the joint-oil of love when so doing; indeed, each one must yield his own peculiar influence to the rest.
3. We should aid the compactness of the whole by our own solidity, and healthy firmness in our place.
4. We should perform our service for all. We should guard, guide, support, nourish, and comfort the rest of the members, as our function may be.
IV. OUR COMPACT UNITY AS A CHURCH.
1. There is but one Body of Christ, even as He is the one Head.
2. It is an actual, living union of a mere professed unity, but a Body quickened by "the effectual working" of God's Spirit in every part.
3. It is a growing corporation. It increases by mutual edification. Not by being puffed up, but by being built up. It grows as the result of its own life, sustained by suitable food.
4. An immortal Body. Because the Head lives, the Body must live also.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. The highest part of the body, the most exalted.
2. The most sensitive part, the seat of nerve and sensation, of pleasure and pain.
3. The most honourable part, the glory of man, the part of man's body that receives the blessing, wears the crown, and is anointed with the oil of joy and of consecration.
4. The most exposed part, especially assailed in battle, and liable to be injured, and where injury would be most dangerous.
5. The most expressive part, the seat of expression, whether in the smile of approval, the frown of displeasure, the tear of sympathy, the look of love.
(G. S. Bowes.)
(Luther.)1. Of the things into which we are to "grow up," I should place, first, assurance — an assurance of our own forgiveness — an interest in Christ, and in all the promises. Assurance, or, which is almost the same thing, peace, is entirely a matter of "growth." It develops like the harvest; and many seasons have to pass over it. It begins in a little seed of trembling hope, which scarcely gives a sign, or sends out one shoot. Then you go on to a feeling of faith, which comes and goes, as capricious as an April day. Then you proceed to a trust, which begins to settle itself, and to spring upward. Then that trust becomes firmer and firmer; while, in exact proportion, the life rises visibly, but feebly, higher and higher, till you reach, through much discipline, and after many pains, and perhaps only at the very last — to an unquestioning faith, and entire confidence, and a belief that has not a shadow, that He is yours and you are His — that you can lie, covenanted, undertaken for, safe forever — sure as the everlasting hills — steadfast as the throne of God; while, all the time, the richness of the fruit bears ample testimony to the depth of the root.
2. Another thing into which we "grow," and a sure accompaniment of this increase of faith, and without which you may very justly suspect whether it is faith at all, is humility. Never think that humility belongs most to the young Christian, or to the earlier stages of the Divine Life.
3. Side by side with a deepening humility will come the exquisite grace of simplicity. Simple thoughts about truth, simple views of Christ, simple language about religion, simple manners, simple dress, simple conduct. The fine, and the showy, and the effective all belong to infancy.
4. Then another part of growth is, to "grow" out of self. They have got high up who have escaped from themselves. First, from self-indulgence; then from self-exaltation; self-consciousness. And, still higher, those who, scarcely looking into themselves at all, never seek in self what is only to be found in Christ. It was the characteristic feature of Christ Himself, that "He pleased not Himself." Let me tell you one or two of the great secrets of "growth." You must be happy. You wilt never grow till you are happy — happy in your own soul with God. Nothing will ever grow out of sunshine; and the sunshine of the heart is the felt smile of God. Then you must have communion with the holy, invisible things of another world. Growth is an influence from above. The higher atmosphere draws up the plants. Place yourself where the showers fall. Take in the virtue of strength through the drops of truth. And remember we "grow" from within. The heart first, the life afterwards. And use well what you have. Action is the key of growth. Therefore, the fierce winds blow over the forest — that each tree, and bough, and little spray, being moved, and shaken, the sap may the better run. Stirring things are to quicken us — that God's grace may operate, that we ourselves, not being stagnant, but active, and busy, and diffusive — may "grow"; grow up to that great Worker, who so travailed for us all. And you must yield yourselves to the Pruner's hand. Now there would be very little to gather in your gardens but for the dresser's knife.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Essex Congregational Remembrancer.Let us consider Christ —
I. AS HEAD OF THE BODY. From this union so complete, the meanest member derives benefit: separate from the Saviour, the Church is nothing; united to Him, all her members grow and thrive. But there is one very important point not to be forgotten — the sympathy of the Head and of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:26, 27).
II. As the COVENANT-HEART of the Church (see Ephesians 1:20-22). Adam was the head of the human race, and their welfare or ruin depended on his obedience or disobedience to God. Christ was chosen to be the representative or federal Head of the family of God; and "in Him they are all made alive."
III. As Head of the Church IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS KINGLY AUTHORITY.
IV. As the Head or FULNESS OF DIVINITY (see Colossians 2:9, 10). What a glorious display does this give us of our Immanuel! Possessed of the fulness of the Godhead, He is at the head of creation as "Lord of all" (Colossians 1:15-18).
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)The one body: — Now let us, for a few moments, observe what the head does in the natural body, and then see what that spiritual Head does for His mystical body.
1. The head directs. The ends of all the nerves are gathered within that wonderful arch, the skull, which might be called the electric telegraph room of the body, communicating instantly by thought, through those fine white wires the nerves, with every part, and the most distant extremity of the body. If the Christian acts rightly, it is Christ who directs him: He "of God is made unto us wisdom"; and the Christian, feeling his ignorance, and asking for wisdom, according to the promise, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God," is generally guided into all moral and saving truth.
2. The head nourishes. If the nerves are once severed, all below the part severed becomes dead, for the communication is stopped between the head and the members; and if the communication were once stopped between Christ and a member, that member would instantly become paralyzed, or die. As it is in the natural body, the limb withers, the flesh shrinks, the muscles collapse, and the man becomes a mass of bones and shrunken sinew; as I have myself for a long time visited one who was dead from the head downwards, from some such accident as this — whose hands were tied over his body, perfectly lifeless, perfectly motionless. So, if the communication only be imperfect, though not stopped, nutrition and growth are immediately impeded; the heart begins to palpitate, so that disease might be supposed to exist there; and if the leading nerves do not work, if the nervous energy be impaired, the health of the member at once becomes weakness. Christ is the Head of the body; and all the spiritual nourishment which that body receives is as directly received through its union with the Head, as the nourishment of the body is through its union with the natural head.
3. The head unites. My hand and my wrist are next door neighbours; but, near as they are, it is only through the head that they sympathize. Were the nerves separated, they would have just as much sympathy as two corpses laid in the same room. If my hand holds communion with the wrist, it is through the union of both with the head. As one hand holds communion with the other at the opposite quarter of the body, so does the nearest member, as well as the farthest. And so it is with Christians. The nearest believers are united, not by neighbourhood — for we know in this monstrous city that men may live next door to one another, and know nothing whatever of each other, and care less — but by union with Christ, the Head, the members sympathize with the nearest, as well as with the farthest, because they are both one in Christ.
4. The growth of the body depends on the health of every part; and it is this which the apostle directs our attention to, where he says, "According to the effectual working in the measure of every part"; and in this way it is that the body "maketh increase to the edifying of itself." A healthy body is that in which each part is healthy. No part can be disordered in the natural body, without affecting the whole, more or less. The festered little finger will make "the whole head sick, and the whole heart faint," will communicate throbs through the whole body to the brain, spread inflammation, break up sleep, take away appetite, impair digestion, bring on the flushing of fever, or the paleness of atrophy in the cheek. Growth is the result of every part of the body doing its work. Not only is the daily waste made up, and the daily loss repaired, but the body is increased by the addition of fresh particles. The food we take is incorporated, and becomes part of our wonderful body: the salts, the alkalis, the different elements in food, are all carried by the arteries and veins to the different parts, and the stream of life lands and deposits each cargo of supplies at the wharfs along the shore. The very bulb at the root of the hair is fed, and without that nourishment it would not grow. Now, this supply cannot be carried on except the head is united to the members; but it is by each joint of the body receiving its supply, and doing its work, that the body grows. The supply is received in order that the work may be done; and as the work could not be done except the supply were received, so neither will the supply be given if the work is not done. All parts have not, indeed, the same office in the natural body, but all have their own; each part has its own particular work; and the body will be healthy or not in proportion as each part does its own work. No part of the body is idle. The hand, indeed, does not support the body, like the foot; but it supplies the food, and helps it in many ways. The eye does not feed the body, like the hand; but it enables the hand to do so better. The little hidden arteries, that creep along those wonderful hollows, and valleys, and trenches in the bones, and through the skin and the flesh, cannot be seen like the veins; but they are all at work, conveying the stream of life safely and carefully along. No part is idle; each is at work; and it is by each doing its work that the body grows. "The whole body," says the apostle, "fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint" supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body. So is it in Christ's body the Church. Every member has its work to do — its own place in the mystical body, and its own work in that place. Now, this work is not only the work of the minister of the gospel — not the work purely of the bishop, or the elder, or the deacon. How fearful would be the witness against the nominal Christian, if this were the testimony of a servant! Now, it is by each member bearing this in mind, and endeavouring to act out his part, that the Church spreads, and grows, and acts on the world. Think, beloved brethren, what would be the effect on the world at large, if all those only who met together in this house of God every Sabbath day went forth with Christian consistency of conduct, and simplicity of motive and dependence, to exhibit the example of their Redeemer in the world on the weekdays. Think, if every part did its work with energy, what that work would be.
(W. W. Champneys, M. A.)
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